Restoring the rosters: No. 13 – Cleveland

Leave a comment

This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
The Indians had a history of producing stars as frequently as any team during the 90s and the early part of this decade. The problem is that a few of those guys were actually ex-Expos and some of the rest are starting to get old now. As a result, the Tribe doesn’t rate as highly as one might think.
Rotation
CC Sabathia
Fausto Carmona
Jeremy Guthrie
Aaron Laffey
Bartolo Colon
Bullpen
Rafael Perez
Brian Tallet
Danys Baez
Edward Mujica
Jensen Lewis
David Riske
David Huff
The rotation would have looked a whole lot better two years ago, with Carmona and Guthrie emerging as quality young starters and a solid Paul Byrd replacing Laffey. Byrd was still considered for the last spot over Colon, as were Tallet, Huff, Scott Lewis and Jeremy Sowers. As is, it’s CC and a bunch of guys who haven’t contributed this year. Tallet has pitched better than most of them, but I still think he’d be more valuable in the pen.
Lineup
SS Marco Scutaro
1B Russell Branyan
C Victor Martinez
LF Manny Ramirez
DH Jim Thome
3B Jhonny Peralta
RF Luke Scott
CF Ben Francisco
2B Maicer Izturis
Bench
OF Ryan Church
INF Kevin Kouzmanoff
INF John McDonald
C Wyatt Toregas
While the pitching staff is a mess, the lineup remains awfully nice. Brian Giles is out, but there were still more legitimate alternatives for the team in Willy Taveras and Ryan Garko. Center field is the weakest position, and Church might deserve a chance to start over Francisco against right-handers. He lacks range in center, but Francisco isn’t exactly a Gold Glove contender either. Against lefties, Francisco should hit second, with Branyan exiting the lineup in favor of Kouzmanoff.
Of course, Victor, Manny, Thome is one of the best 3-4-5 combinations in the game. It’s the middle infielders enjoying career seasons that really boosts Cleveland’s lineup, though. Scutaro’s defense allows Peralta to be played at third, where he’s likely a more valuable player. Izturis has always been pretty solid, but he’s topped his career OPS by 70 points this season.
Summary
Indians prospects have been relative disappointments lately, as should be evident from the team above. The only players on the roster to come along these last couple of seasons are fringe guys. The system has plenty of talent now, but much of that is a result of deals that cost the team Sabathia, Martinez, Cliff Lee, Casey Blake and Mark DeRosa. The Indians are a mid-market club these days, so it’s imperative that they start having better drafts. As is, they haven’t hit big with first-round pick since Sabathia in 1998.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”